SOURCE: Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation

May 03, 2013 10:41 ET

May Employment Data Continue to Show Positive Trend for People With Disabilities

WEST ORANGE, NJ--(Marketwired - May 3, 2013) - For the second month in a row, the latest statistics indicate a positive employment picture for people with disabilities, according to today's Trends in Disability Employment - National Update (TIDE Update). This release is the third monthly analysis issued by Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD). Last month's TIDE Update was issued on April 5.

In Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday, May 3, the employment-to-population ratio increased from 26.9 percent in April 2012 to 27.3 percent in April 2013 (up 1.5%) for working-age people with disabilities. "This change indicates that a greater proportion of people with disabilities are working, which continues the trend seen in last month's numbers," according to John O'Neill, PhD, Kessler Foundation's Director of Employment and Disability Research. "For people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio remained about the same (up 0.6%)." The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (number of people working ÷ number of people in the total population × 100).

In addition, the percent actively looking for work increased slightly for people with disabilities, from 4.3 percent in April 2012 to 4.5 percent in April 2013 (up 5.5%). "This reflects the fact that more people with disabilities are participating in the labor force. People enter the labor force by either starting a job or starting to look for work. Both increased this month compared to the same month last year," according to Andrew Houtenville, PhD, UNH-IOD professor of economics. In contrast, for people without disabilities the percentage looking for work decreased from 5.8% in April 2012 to 5.3% in April 2013 (down 8.9%). The percent looking for work reflects the percentage of people who are looking for work relative to the total population (number of looking for work ÷ number of people in the total population × 100).

For the labor force participation rate, data were also positive for people with disabilities. The rate increased from 31.2 percent in April 2012 to 31.8 percent in April 2013 (up 1.9%). The labor participation rate is the percentage of people who are working or actively looking for work. In contrast, a small decrease was seen among people without disabilities -- from 76.1 percent to 75.9 percent (down 0.3%). "This is yet more positive evidence that the labor market is starting to turn around for people with disabilities," added O'Neill.

"These numbers still need to be interpreted with caution because of the lack of seasonal adjustment," added Houtenville. "Five years of data are required to adjust for seasonal fluctuations," he explained. "Data for people with disabilities have been formally tracked since June 2008, so that adjustment will be incorporated later this year."

The TIDE Update issued on April 8, 2013 also suggested improvement in the engagement of people with disabilities in the workforce. The next Trends in Disability Employment - National Update will be issued on Friday, June 7, 2013.

Trends in Disability Employment - National Update is funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133B120006), and Kessler Foundation.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability research and employment, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition and mobility for people with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, and other disabling conditions. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for job training and employment for people with disabilities.

About the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire
The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. For information on the NIDRR-funded Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, visit

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